Last week, PURPLE SNEAKERS caught up with Jay Watson, lead guitarist from Perth psychedelic outfit POND. It was our way of getting psyched up about their national tour, starting this weekend. I know this here writer is almost jumping out of her seat in anticipation. Let’s get to the goss, shall we?
Pond is the sonic lovechild of Watson, Joseph Ryan and Tame Impala’s Nick Allbrook. They used to have a bunch of people in the band, a revolving cast of sorts, who would all play and collaborate. The name seems oddly suitable in light of that- they could fill a pond with former, current and touring members.
Even though some overlap with Tame Impala, the tunes are entirely different. After all, Kevin Parker writes most of the Tame Impala stuff, whilst Watson, Ryan and Allbrook all write for Pond. And more importantly, they all have different tastes, with the boys from Pond being more into David Bowie, T-Rex and Prince– their tunes are ‘a bit boisterous, less introspective, more party.’
Watson is a self-proclaimed ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’ He is Tame Impala’s former drummer, now keyboardist. And he played drums for Pond too. A little unsure of himself, he practices guitar just before each show, as well as taking the obligatory shot of tequila. For more insight into the man behind the guitar, we asked which famous person he would punch- Kyle Sandilands, although he was weary of making such a judgement on someone he didn’t know. And he’d snog Jimi Hendrix because ‘I’m almost 100% sure he was a cool guy and he’s pretty sexy.’
Because we’re all about new music and rediscovering older rad music, we wanted to know about his tastes- his new indie find is R. Stevie Moore who used to release lo-fi home recordings in the ‘70s. He wrote epic pop songs, cool weird music, about him liking to stay home or about drinking beer. He sounds like Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, ‘like Brian Wilson crossed with Frank Zappa.’
Watson tells us more about the philosophy behind Pond. The inspiration for clips like ‘Moth Wings’ is the urge to put the humour back in music, the way musicians such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and even Hendrix did. Ryan had an app on his phone where you can put your mouth in pictures of your friends. Because the boys are worried bands are too serious now. ‘It’s all well and good to sing about life-affirming things’- girls, life, death, whatnot- but the ‘weight of that diminishes if everyone is always singing about that.’ So instead Pond sometimes write songs about nothing, about stupid stuff, to cover all the bases ‘because in real life you do stupid stuff and stuff that’s life-affirming.’ After all, ‘some of the day I’m sitting around thinking about heavy things, but some of the day I’m dancing in my house in my jocks listening to Led Zeppelin.’ There’s a mental picture for you.
Being named NME’s ‘Hottest New Band in the World’ has had no discernible effect on the lads. They’re still as free-wheeling and energetic as ever. It seems like a misleading title considering their enviable back catalogue, but Watson feels that it has something to do with being on fire on their American tour. ‘NME likes bands who are over the top’ and those Pond gigs got a little crazy, with people throwing beers and the band stage-diving- more like a punk tour, which is interesting considering they ‘used to be called hippies.’ But not all their shows are like that- sometimes they play more introvertedly- it all depends on how they’re feeling. And on who turns up on the night. Our fingers are crossed that they make a bit of a scene and it gets a bit wild when they play for their local fans. Watson doesn’t know, ‘we might have cannons on stage or something.’ Lately, they’ve been a bit contemplative, a bit quiet, but we’ve been told to expect some big dumb fun, as they’ve been rehearsing a shitload- including more songs, some new and some ‘hits from the vault.’
They’ve got a new album that we should hopefully see on shelves early next year. It is as of yet, untitled. As a joke, Allbrook told an interviewer it would be called Hobo Rocket and that took the net by storm. Watson is unwilling to confirm that this will definitely not be the title; it ‘might be called the French for that.’ The album after is locked-in as Man It Feels Like Space Again- an LP they’re currently working on.
After the success of Beards, Wives, Denim, we were curious to know if they felt the pressure when making the latest release. But he tells me that they ‘could do a lot better.’ Their upcoming is ‘probably the best album we’ve ever made’ despite the fact that they didn’t freak out so much over the little things. And Beards, Wives, Denim was a bit goofy and silly, in line with their obsession with Ween and The Mighty Boosh. So the new one is bit more serious and epic, ‘still fun, but not as silly.’ It’s expected to be pretty weird, more evil than Beards, Wives, Denim– a kind of ‘jazz Black Sabbath,’ ‘a hundred things tossed together’ which is glam and progressive and something the boys are proud of. The lyrics are darker, this time written entirely by Allbrook, and it’s a crazy mix with crazy effects and a real cosmic sound.
To relate it to their earlier work, Watson describes it as a cross between sophomore release Corridors of Blissterday and the following album Frond. But as he says ‘every album sounds so completely different… I always meet people who have heard the band before who are like “I used to love Pond and now I hate Pond” or vice versa. But my little cousin’s like “I like Pond now. I never used to like Pond; it was too weird.”’
WIN WIN WIN
Want to join in on all the fun? Well we’ve got a double pass to give away to one of their gigs. Simply comment on this post with your favourite Pond track and the tickets could be yours. And for an idea of what you can expect, check out our review from their last headlining tour back in April HERE.
POND TOUR DATES
Saturday September 15
Thursday September 20
The Metro Theatre, Sydney
Sunday September 23
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Words by Hannah Story